The Newtown Borough Environmental Advisory Council has forwarded a proposed single-use plastics ban ordinance to Newtown Borough Council.
Council Member Julia Woldorf said the ordinance is “very, very similar” to the one passed in Newtown Township.
According to comments from council at its Wednesday evening meeting, the proposal calls for banning single-use plastic bags and limiting the distribution of plastic silverware from eateries. It would allow a retailer to charge a small fee, which they could keep, for providing recycled paper bags or reusable bags. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect six months later.
The proposed ordinance is being edited and undergoing a legal review, but the draft has been presented to council.
At next week’s council meeting, the proposed ordinance could be voted on for official advertising. After that, the council would vote on the ordinance at a future meeting.
Once advertised, the full text of the proposed ordinance will be made public.
Council President Emily Heinz said she had concerns about how the small municipality would enforce the ordinance.
On enforcement, Environmental Advisory Council member Katherine Borish said she believes the policy could largely be enforced by the honor system and a new borough manager could take things from there.
Woldorf explained that the borough could appoint a designee to enforce the ordinance.
The draft has proposed that violations of the single-use plastics ban would include a warning with a 30-day grace period, a $50 fine for a second offense, $100 for a third offense, $200 for a fourth offense, and $200 for every later offense.
The proposed ordinance allows businesses to request a waiver, especially if businesses need to wind down existing stocks of single-use plastics, Woldorf said.
Borish told the council the Environmental Advisory Council is committed to working with local businesses to educate them if the ordinance is passed.
Borish said she was told by staff at the Fine Wine and Good Spirits store in the borough that the state store would be moving away from plastic bags in March because they believed the borough would follow the township in implementing a ban.
Newtown Township’s ban of single-use plastics will take place in early April. The ban includes exemptions for certain single-use plastics necessary for food safety or upon customer request.
A growing number of municipalities in Pennsylvania have been implementing single-use plastic bans, including Doylestown Borough and Solebury Township.